Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain took the podium on Wednesday to announce his 2016 National Signing Day class. But while he was at said podium, he also indicated that he knew who the Gators would be hiring as their new defensive backs coach.
Just hours later, Sports Illustrated reported that it will be Virginia Tech secondary coach Torrian Gray who will be joining Florida to replace the ousted Kirk Callahan.
Late Thursday, McElwain and the Gators confirmed the hire.
Gray, a 41-year-old originally from Bartow, Florida, attended Virginia Tech in the 1990s and returned to his alma mater in 2006 as DBs coach. He also serves as VT’s passing game coordinator. Since rejoining the Hokies as a coach, Gray has been a part of two ACC Championships.
Previously, he served in that role at Maine (2000-01), UConn (2002-03) and as an assistant with the Chicago Bears (2004-05). Between playing in college and coaching, Gray played two years in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings after being drafted with the No. 49 overall pick in 1997.
Earlier Thursday, Virginia Tech sent out a press release with quotes from the coach stating that Gray would not be returning to the team and instead going back to his roots in the Sunshine State.
“Coach [Justin] Fuente has been great to me and I know the future will be bright at Virginia Tech under his leadership,” Gray said in a release from Virginia Tech. “This wasn’t about dollars and cents or anything else. Virginia Tech made me a very generous offer to stay, but this was simply a career opportunity and chance to return home to my Florida roots that my family couldn’t pass up.”
He continued: “I can’t thank Coach Fuente enough for offering to do more to encourage me to stay, but Florida was one of the few opportunities that would even make me consider leaving Virginia Tech. I wish Coach Fuente and his staff the very best, and I’ll continue to follow the progress of the great young men in the Tech locker room. I’m going tomiss them all.”